Whilst we reviewed FIFA 13 back when it was fresh, the Wii U version is a launch title and has had plenty added to it.We know that EA have a history of porting last year’s game (or at the very least, not the current iteration) to a new console, the Wii U version appears to have all of the bells and whistles of the current game, but the engine itself feels closer to FIFA 12.
It’s almost funny, but booting up a Wii U version of a game you’ve already played to death, you kind of expect it to look worse, a full generation of non-HD games will do that to you, so it’s good to see FIFA 13 looking as good as its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts. Even on the Gamepad, though there does appear to be some ghosting with longer passes and shots, but it’s definitely playable, and looks great. In fact, a lot of what makes the Wii U version of FIFA 13 good, takes place on the Gamepad.
For starters, as simple and throwaway as it sounds, being able to alter formation and make a substitution without pausing the game is actually, in practice, superb. For example, even during my first match on the Wii U version, after scoring a goal late in the second half, I wanted to make a change, and could do so while the goal replay and celebration was taking place. Then, before play re-starts, the substitution is made. Intuitive, simple, yet highly effective. Likewise, you can see on the fly statistics for how players are doing and even have a half time talk via the Gamepad. There are plenty of sliders that allow you to change all manner of things, but whilst changing tactics and how players act seems nice at first, ultimately, you the player are controlling them, and the same goes for team talks. It’s also a shame you can’t hold a finger over a player to move their starting position, FIFA 13 still requires you to preordain any alternative positioning. Being able to quickly click your attacking midfielder in a 4-4-2 and drag him up to support the front two strikers would have been an excellent feature and could have captured the imagination of the player, but no, rigid formations are still here.
Ultimate Team is missing, and there’s no way in which that can be seen as anything other than a disappointment. Co-op mode attempts to go some way as to make it up to the player, yet again making the Wii U feel as though it’s been designed for local multiplayer. When you start an exhibition match there is now the option to play the game as the manager, which is an interesting inclusion but never really goes far enough. It’s similar to the ‘Be a Pro’ mode, where you can call for the ball, and instruct your team-mates to pass, shoot, tackle and so on, with the addition of being able to draw lines for where you want the players to go. Given that you aren’t interacting directly with the ball, this could make for a strategic mode, but all it really consists of is drawing lines where you want players to run, only for the opposition to play the offside trap, or for the player with possession to completely ignore your runner, as well as the instruction to pass. All of the options you’d have when playing normally are present on the Gamepad, so you can still substitute on the fly, change tactics and check stats. It’s a nice inclusion, but one that most people will play once, then never again.
The co-op is based around a similar idea, only this time you’ll have human controlled players in the match, so when you draw a run for an A.I. player, it is far easier to make it work. If you’re going to have one player use the Gamepad exclusively for tactics like this, then playing along with other people is definitely the way to go.
Back to the normal action, you can now shoot by raising the Gamepad up and looking at the goal. Then you tap and hold (for power) where you want to shoot. It’s actually quite intuitive, but in practice raising the Gamepad up was fairly hit and miss as to whether it activated this screen or not, so instead you can click both sticks in to show that goal. Free kicks have been changed up too, as you can set the bend of the kick then (again) press and hold where you want to shoot, or just use the buttons. Whether anyone will stick to these new methods is doubtful, but the argument could be made that they might be better for casual players, and the quick menus on the Gamepad screen would reinforce that belief. The trouble is, that in the middle of a fast paced match, clicking both sticks in and changing your view to the Gamepad’s screen just isn’t all that practical, and the goal that appears, covers the screen in such a way that it’s almost off-putting. Another very small negative is the gameplay that Kinect brought to FIFA 13. The Wii U Gamepad has a microphone built in, so there’s no reason that EA couldn’t have included this, too.
Playing on the Gamepad with the TV is good, though. People with a supreme addiction to the fantastic Career Mode will be able to continue their game long after the TV has become unavailable, though it’s worth mentioning that the options for tactics and substitution stay on that Gamepad screen, meaning you don’t quite have the entire touch screen’s real estate to play with. Likewise, the score and match time isn’t displayed on the Gamepad screen, nor are player names.
FIFA 13 for Nintendo’s Wii U is a decent title, but there should be no surprise there, as we all know the last few FIFA titles have been pretty good. The additional features give the player new ways to experience FIFA, but thanks to the removal of some features and the engine not being up to par with the current competitor consoles, it feels yet again more of a blueprint for the next game. Let’s put it this way, if EA promise to ensure the next title is feature complete and on par with the other consoles, then the decision for which version we all buy next year might need to be a little more considered. As it stands though, the lack of Ultimate Team in exchange for the Wii U exclusive features will be a hard pill to swallow for people who already own FIFA 13, and EA really do need to get out of the habit of putting out games for new consoles that are current in name only.